How successful was Henry VII in securing international recognition in the years 1485 to 1509?
As a king Henry had 4 main priorities in regard to his ‘personal’ relations with the princes of Europe, these were: to secure his throne; to achieve international recognition of his kingship and his dynasty’s legitimate succession; to promote prosperity in England; and finally to maintain prestige whilst keeping costs down. Henry thought that the best way to achieve his second priority would be through marriage alliances with royal families from other countries. Foreign royal marriages were common; it was a good way to establish alliances. Henry was able to achieve international recognition through the signing of Treaties. It is debatable how successful Henry VII was in securing international recognition in the years 1485 to 1509, I will be discussing the positive and negative outcomes Henry had to face whilst trying to secure his international recognition throughout this essay.
Firstly, Henry VII negotiated marriage alliances with Scotland for Princess Margaret. Relations between Scotland and England were always tense, the kings of Scotland traditionally owed allegiance to the English Kings but always looked for ways to avoid it. After the failed invasion of James IV who had sided with Warbeck, Henry was able to offer terms on which a treaty could be based. In 1497 the Truce of Ayton was concluded. This was a great achievement for Henry as an agreement between the two countries had not been made since 1328. The Treaty was sealed by the marriage of princess Margaret ad prince James however which was excellent for Henry. However, a downfall was that Scotland did not abandon their ancient Treaty with France and so France depended on continuing good relations between France and England. Nevertheless, whilst Henry lived this never posed as a problem. Another marriage alliance is the one that Henry arranged between Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon. The Treaty of Medina Del Campo is said by some historians to be the most significant achievement in Henry VII’s foreign policy e.g. Caroline and Roger Turvey. Spain had emerged as a major power in the late fifteenth century after the unification of the country in 1497. Spain and England were rivals but both were willing to team up against France. In 1488, Henry suggested a betrothal between Prince Arthur and Ferdinand and Isabella’s daughter Catherine of Aragon. Ferdinand agreed to Henry’s demands on the size of Catherine’s dowry and promised not to help English rivals. It was specified that if either of the countries was fighting with France the other country had to act as an ally and intervene. Additionally, improved trade links were established between the two countries. Although Henry was not helped a lot he continued his pro-Spanish policy throughout his reign helping him secure international recognition of the legitimacy of his position as king as he was seen as an equal by one of the leading royal families in Europe.